Business

Carmichaels sell True Value after almost 30 years

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Twenty-nine years is a long time to do anything, but it was still hard for Betty Carmichael to leave Carmichael's True Value hardware store in Snoqualmie.

After nearly 30 years of owning the store, Betty and her husband, Dick, put in their last day of work on Friday, May 31.

"I really can't believe it. This store has been part of us for so long," Betty said.

The Carmichaels bought the store in 1973, knowing little about the hardware business. Dick had worked in electronics and the store was the first venture the couple went into on their own. But the longtime Valley residents were happy to be working together in the community in which they grew up.

The community they served has been the most rewarding part of owning the store. The Carmichaels came to know just about everyone who walked in the door, and made it a point to meet all those who came in for the first time.

They learned everyone's dreams through the houses they were building, and watched their customer's children have children of their own.

Even with heavy competition from larger hardware chains, the Carmichaels remained viable, thanks to the winning combination Betty and Dick made

"I know you have to love to talk to people and be a hard worker to be successful," Betty said. "Well, I'm the social one and Dick is the hard worker."

Even though Betty and Dick were known for different gifts at the store (when asked if he was a man of few words, Dick replied, "Yep," and moved on to help a customer), it has not been uncommon for a customer to see either of the Carmichaels racing around the store looking for an item or chatting with a visitor.

They have had such a good time that they were not thinking about selling their store when Wendy Thomas and Bryan Woolsey walked in last year and offered to buy it from them.

Thomas and Woolsey, who were both then working at Issaquah Lumber Co. but lived in North Bend, had visited the Carmichael's store often and came to the conclusion that they wanted to run a small-town hardware store.

"This is a kind of gathering place for the Valley community," Thomas said. "It's kind of a vortex where everyone meets and visits."

They were not expecting to buy the hardware store, figuring the Carmichaels would prefer to sell it to family or friends. They were surprised when the Carmichael's agreed to the sale.

"We never thought about selling it until the right people came along," Betty said.

The longer the Carmichaels thought about the sale, the more sense it made. They were already working only part-time and wanted to devote more time to their family and travels.

Thomas said she and Woolsey don't plan on changing much at the store. They are thinking about getting the Carmichaels some rocking chairs to sit in out front so they feel welcome when they come back and visit.

"They are a hard couple to follow, but we will do our best to serve the community," Thomas said. "We'll win them over."

You can reach Ben Cape at (425) 888-2311, or e-mail him at ben.cape@

valleyrecord.com.

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